Friday, September 23, 2016

I May Not Go to Heaven

A few weeks ago I was traveling home from Grand Junction after one of Grange’s races when I got a hankerin’ for country music. I wasn’t looking for the modern stuff that sounds like Britney Spears or the Backstreet Boys with a sinus infection. No, I wanted Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Jr. and maybe even Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. I needed trains, whisky, bad woman and broken hearts to lift me up. Scanning the FM dial, I finally found what I was looking for and settled in for the ride. A few minutes later Tanya Tucker came across the airwaves, crooning, “When I die I may not go to heaven. I don’t know if they let cowboys in. If they don’t just let me go to Texas, Boy. Texas is as close as I’ve been.”

Although I never understood her relationship with Glen Campbell, I have always enjoyed Tanya’s music in general and this tune in particular. Based upon my experience over the past several years, however, I have begun to question her logic. The reason, of course, is that all the Texans have moved to Colorado, or at least have a second home there. Whenever I visit Durango, Telluride, Salida, Ouray or any of the other mountain towns, there they are, in droves. Texas license plates, tight jeans, big belt buckles and large brimmed hats are everywhere in those communities and I wonder whether anyone is left in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, Austin or Lubbock. Things have apparently changed since Tanya's song was released in 1977, and Colorado now seems closer to heaven than the Lone Star State.

The closer I got to Bluff, the more I pondered that northwesterly migration and the corresponding change of celestial circumstances. Arriving home later that evening, I decided to consult Georgiana, the Oracle of Bluff, or at least of the Simpson home. I concluded that if anybody could sort this out, it would be her. Without Georgiana, I reasoned, Kira would be studying astrology instead of astrophysics, and Grange, like his dad, would be interested in monkey business rather than medicine. When I have volunteered to tutor the kids in math, science, history or any one of a variety of other subjects, the Oracle has always advised against it. “Remember when you asked your father about about π and he went to out for ice cream, or when you inquired about Greece and he told the history of Crisco shortening”, she cautions. Thankfully she does not mention the time Grange was studying Latin and I suggested he use Google Translate to decipher his homework. Needless to say, his instructor was not impressed with the results.

When I laid out the facts as I understood them and made my inquiry about the Promised Land and cowpunchers, the Oracle declared, “Well, Indian traders and lawyers don’t go to heaven either, so you have a compound problem.” As Shoni the Server would say, “Right?” That was something they never mentioned in law school, so over the next several days I surveyed various people who rambled through Twin Rocks Trading Post. My goal was to find anyone who knew an attorney they believed had been allowed to enter the Pearly Gates. “Not a single one?”, I queried as I interrogated each individual. The universal response: “Nope. Not even one.”

Just as I was becoming despondent, I remembered Bennion Redd, the San Juan County Attorney, federal magistrate and all around good guy. Surely Bennion had been allowed passage into Paradise when he crossed over in 2009, I reassured myself. When I was a young lawyer trying to scratch out a living in this dusty Utah backwater, I always looked forward to my telephone calls or meetings with this gentle man. Bennion was an old-time lawyer and, paraphrasing the Evangical Christians, whenever I got into a tight spot and did not know what to do, I asked myself, “What would Bennion do?” Answering that question consistently pointed me in the right direction and helped solve my dilemma. Bennion never steered me wrong. Surely Bennion made it, I concluded, even though the Oracle has, to my knowledge, always been correct. Maybe early retirement from the practice had saved him, or possibly there were special circumstances I could not identify. In any case, I resolved to take this up with the Oracle.

Despite the challenges associated with attorneys, Indian traders in heaven turned out to be an even bigger challenge, and all my canvassing left me convinced the Oracle was spot on when it came to this particular group. A through reading of the literature did not turn up a single reference to that realm. There was, however, no shortage a hell raising mentioned. Once again, this issue was not addressed during my tenure at Trader Technical College, so, like those enrolled in Trump University, I considered litigation. Eternity, after all, is a serious issue which should not be overlooked when considering one’s career choices. As Jamie Olson would say, “I’m just sayin’.”

What the the Oracle could not, however, know is that, being the experienced Indian trader I am, I have an ace in the hole. Several years ago Corrine Roring, a philanthropist and local legend approached me about acquiring sandstone from one of our properties to help rebuild the old Bluff Coop. “Okay”, I readily agreed. “How much is it going to cost me?”, she warily asked. After pretending to ponder the question several minutes, I replied, “Nothing.” “Nothing?”, she repeated cautiously. “Nothing”, I confirmed, saying "I do, however, have a request.” “Ahh”, she said, expecting the worst. Knowing her place in in the afterworld had long ago been secured, I said, “If you get ‘there' before I do, just put in a good word for me.” I figured I had struck a sensible bargain and that my odds were good because she was in her late 70s and I in my early 50s. “Deal”, she agreed, shaking my hand to confirm the arrangement and turning toward the door with a sly smile. The stone was later harvested, the Coop restored and Corrine moved on to her great reward. When I mentioned this situation to the Oracle, saying, “Guess I don't have to go to Texas after all”, she responded, “Well, that will be a first! You better hope the admissions committee doesn’t get wind of this before you get through."

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